This essay describes the way that digital narratives (both commercial video games and electronic literature) create two kinds of space: a primary storytelling space in which gameplay or reading occurs, and an orientating space through which those primary spaces are encountered. This orienting space might include a larger narrative world, a menu from which game options can be chosen, or some expressive frame for our reading and play. This essay examines space in narrative theory—especially the work of Ruth Ronen, Gabriel Zoran, David Herman, and Mikhail Bakhtin—in search of a theory able to accommodate this orienting space. After an analysis of the challenges of accounting for intentionally bounded or limited narrative space in these theories, this essay turns to Bakhtin’s under-appreciated distinction between the view from inside and outside of the chronotope, which offers an account of what it would mean to occupy such an orienting space. This essay concludes by arguing that the methodology adopted here can have a wider application. By treating a new medium as offering possibilities that reveal unrecognized tensions and limitations within older theories, this essay describes a kind of narratological archeology similar to recent work on media archeology.


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pp. 92-112
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